Creating shims with the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit

I promised a while back to post some examples of creating and using shims. These are a little later than I wanted them to be, but here we are (finally). Since it took so long I added a bonus that I wasn’t able to include in my BriForum 2014 presentation, a video demonstration of the VIrtualRegistry shim.

My top 2 used shims:

  • CorrectFilePaths – These are similar to symbolic links, but are defined per .EXE instead of system wide
  • VirtualRegistry – Redirect registry calls. Can redirect HKLM to HKCU.

For a more detailed explanation on these, visit my previous post on shims.

Formatting your parameters:

CorrectFilePaths –

“original path”;”newpath”

Example:”C:\Programdata\Application X”;”Z:\ApplicationStore\Application X”

This will redirect the application call from the Programdata location to the Z drive. The Z could be a user mapped drive or any location you would prefer it go to. Keeping in mind that only the EXE(s) that you specify will only be redirected.

If you want to use environment variables such as %appdata%, I found that putting them at the begging of the parameter did not work. So I had to use “c:\users\%username%\appdata\roaming”.

Video Example:

VirtualRegisty –


Example: ADDREDIRECT(HKLM\Software\Application\Database^HKCU\Software\Application\Database)

This will redirect the application whenever it calls the above HKLM key to the HKCU specified in the example.

Video example:

Download the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) here

How to generate a ConfigurationFile.ini for SQL Express

Creating a ConfigurationFile.ini for SQL Standard or Enterprise is easy. The installer automatically creates one for you and gives you the path at the ‘Ready to Install’ step. For some reason this default functionality for Express was removed starting with SQL 2008 R2 and continues to SQL 2012. I haven’t messed with SQL 2014 Express, but one might assume it’s gone there as well.

Anyways, getting the installer to generate a ConfigurationFile.ini is pretty easy. Open a command prompt and add the following parameters to the .exe:



Note that /Action is a required parameter. Also, setting /UImode to Normal will present every dialog box that exists in the installer (even ones that do not apply to Express). Normal is the default value for non-express editions.

A few things to know for your ConfigurationFile.ini

  • Add the following to the bottom of your file to agree to the license agreement: IACCEPTSQLSERVERLICENSETERMS=”True”
  • If you want to run in Mixed mode and need to specify the SA password, add the following to bottom of the file: SAPWD=”ENTER_YOUR_PASSWORD”
  • To perform an unattended or silent install modify QUIET=”False” to “True”
  • For a silent install you will need to comment out or remove UIMODE=”Normal” in the file. This cannot be used in a silent install

Source: Installing SQL Server from the Command Prompt

Update 10/26/16: In the comments, Stephan states that his SQL 2014 install would not accept TRUE/FALSE for the IACCEPTSQLSERVERLICENSETERMS. Try using 1 instead of TRUE if you experience the same error. I recently created a config file for 2014 and was able to use TRUE. FYI in case you do though!

App-V 5 SP2 and Crystal Reports Runtime 13

I recently ran into an issue sequencing an application that uses the Crystal Reports runtime 13. The application worked properly when natively installed on a machine, but thew errors when it was virtualized with App-V 5. It complained about a particular GUID and not being able to locate some DLLs.

I found a similar issue on the TechNet forums where an application that used Crystal runtime 13 worked properly in App-V 5.0 RTM, but not with SP2+. It appears Microsoft fixed some issues with buffering in the updated Service Pack. Which in turn ‘broke’ crystal integration with the application. I checked out the installation path for the Crystal runtime and it sure has some long paths!

C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\Crystal Reports for .NET Framework 4.0\Common\Crystal Reports 2011\crystalreportviewers

C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\Crystal Reports for .NET Framework 4.0\Common\SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0\win32_x86

The OP of that issue was able to resolve it by creating an MST to shorten the file and registry paths. I was curious if I could fix this issue without creating an MST. I couldn’t find any install parameters for the runtime, but found ones for full-blown Crystal. The one I wanted was this:


After confirming the same parameter worked with the runtime installer, I set installdir to – C:\Program Files (x86)\1\

This changed the installation directory to: C:\Program Files (x86)\1\Crystal Reports for .NET Framework 4.0\Common\..

It only saved 18 characters, but it might just do the trick…. And it did! Now the application is able to run reports without error.

The underlying issue here is that installation path is too long when you sequence it. Maybe the next verison of the Crystal runtime will have shorter paths…. If not, we should at least have a work around.

Here’s a bonus! – I hard a hard time locating a download page for the runtime, but I found it here.

Two particularly useful Shims

As promised in my BriForum 2014 session, I will start a small series on Application fixes using shims and symbolic links. The first installment is on shims:

Shims can be really useful in just about any environment and I wish there were some better resources explaining how to use them. This is why I wrote this article explaining my two favorite shims.

As Microsoft releases new versions of their OS, folder structures and other key areas are bound to change. Or some applications may store personal user settings in a shared location or has a registry key that is best lived in HKCU instead of HKLM. This is where shimming or “Compatibility Fixes” come to the rescue.
A shim is installed at the system level and will essentially intercept an application call and change the default behavior of the application. The two main flavors of shims that I find extremely useful are CorrectFilePaths and VirtualRegistry. There are several hundred types of shims, but these two are the ones I find myself using a lot.

This shim is particularly useful when an application stores a file or folder in a directory that you want stored somewhere else. For example, say you install an application on an RDS server that stores a configuration file in ProgramData. This is not a good location if each user writes settings to it and get overwritten by other users. The CorrectFilePaths shim allows you to redirect the file call from the original path (e.g. C:\ProgramData\ABC Inc\UserConfig.ini) and replace it with a path that is user specific (e.g. %appdata%\ABC Inc\UserConfig.ini).

During shim creation you specify what process will be intercepted and redirected. This way when a user launches the process you specified and calls the file, it will be redirected to the new location. Now every user will have their own configuration file instead that doesn’t conflict with other users.

Much like CorrectFilePaths, the VirtualRegistry shim allows you to redirect a registry call to a different location. An example where this would be useful is when an application stores a database server value in HKLM. This value may tell the application what server to establish a connection to. Now, say you have two groups of users – Group A & Group B. Group A connects to database server 1 and Group B connects to database server 2. Normally you would build a separate RDS server for each group to accommodate the multiple database values, but what if you wanted to have both user groups use the same server? How would you be able to accommodate that?

Create a new VirtualRegistry shim! You can redirect the HKLM values to HKCU and set those values with a logon script. This way Group A gets its registry key for database server 1 and Group B gets theirs for database server 2.

Shims sound great and they really are, but they can be a pain in the rear to get configured. I’ll post an article on both shims with examples in a few days.

If you want to get started Shimming, download the Application Compatibility toolkit from Microsoft here:

Sequence Google Chrome v36 with App-V 5 SP2 HF4

Sequencing Google Chrome 36.0.1985.125 with App-V 5.0 SP2 HF4





My personal lab setup-


Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 – fully patched as of 7/25/14

App-V version: 5.0 SP2 HF4

Non-domain joined


Windows 8.1 – fully patched as of 7/25/14

App-V version: 5.0 SP2 HF5



Download Google Chrome for Business – The IT manager (MSI) download

You should now have GoogleChromeStandaloneEnterprise.msi


Installation steps:

PVAD: C:\Dummy

If you want to use Microsoft best practices, here is the default installation directory: C:\Program Files (x86)\Google


Run – GoogleChromeStandaloneEnterprise.msi

The only way you will know the install is complete is by the new Google Chrome icon on the desktop.


Disable the following services:

  • Google Update Service (gupdate)
  • Google Update Service (gupdatem)


Save and deploy your sequence.

Catch me at BriForum 2014


You can catch me at BriForum Boston this year from July 21 – 23, 2014. I will be speaking with my colleague Rory Monaghan (App-V MVP) on sequencing for success.

We will discuss the best practices to get the best results with App-V. Ryan will detail how to use symbolic links, shims and other methods to enable you to produce a disposable application ready for us with any potential client. Sequencing once for many. Rory will discuss some sequencing best practices and give food for thought regarding planning. Just because an application can be sequenced, should it? Just because Microsoft says something like drivers can’t work or DCOM, that doesn’t mean you’re dead in the water yet. There may be a way to get around this. Also, Rory will cover some sample case studies of his successes for clients versus some failures.

Attendees will learn:
• How to produce an application that can be used for all of your customers who need it despite possible unique settings for each
• Examples of where this can be useful and required. e.g. Cloud Services
• Case studies of different client projects and success versus failures
• An idea of what set of applications may be better delivered as a local traditionally installed application
• How to decide to deliver applications which have been reported to have issues during Sequencing e.g. an application with DCOM, an application with Drivers, an application with COM+
• Learn some sequencing best practices and possible gotchas

Find more information on our session here

Information about the speakers: Rory and Ryan


App-V 5.0 SP2 Hotfix Package 5

Microsoft recently released Hotfix Package 5 for App-V 5.0 SP2. The first two below are items that I’ve wanted for a while:

1 – Enabling user-publishing in the Administrator context through Windows PowerShell

This hotfix release enables user-publishing to be done in the Administrator context through the following four Windows PowerShell cmdlets:


To do this, use the optional -UserSID parameter, and pass in the SID of the intended user.

2 – Connection groups cannot support both user-published and global-published packages

With this hotfix release, App-V 5.0 SP2 supports creating user-entitled connection groups that contain user-published and global-published packages by using Windows PowerShell.

3 – Deprecation of PackageStoreAccessControl support in App-V 5.0 SP2

Effective immediately, the PackageStoreAccessControl (PSAC) setting that was introduced in App-V 5.0 SP2 is being deprecated in both single-user and multiuser environments.


Download the hotfix and get more information here:

Updating a new Adobe Acrobat install

About to deploy Acrobat and find there are a lot of updates to install? Good luck trying to find an updated installer higher than version XX.0. Not only is it a pain to download and run every applicable update, trying to figure out the upgrade path can be like doing super math.

To make your life a little easier when deploying Acrobat, follow these steps:

1 .Determine the upgrade path

There is an Acrobat and Reader release notes page that can help you determine the upgrade path. Click on the version numbers to determine what version is required before that update can be applied. The patching got a little easier in 10.X and 11.X with more cumulative updates, but 9.x is still a PITA. For version 9, I suggest you obtain the upgrade path from here.

2. Download the update(s)

You can download all updates from this page.

3. Modify the Acrobat setup.ini

Next, grab your xx.0 installer and extract it with an archive utility such as WinRAR.

Open setup.ini with notepad and look for the [Product] section. Start a new line here line that begins with “Patch=” and list the MSPs in order from oldest to newest separated by a semi-colon.

Here are some examples of what your Patch line would be at the time of this writing:

Acrobat 11:


Acrobat 10:


Acrobat 9:


4. Copy in your patches

Place all of the MSPs into the root of the installation folder. This is the same folder that contains setup.ini.

5. Install

Run the Acrobat install and let it run all of the updates for you. The final version to be installed should be displayed in the installation menus. This can help you verify the latest version will be ready when the install is complete.


Use the Adobe customization wizard to generate a custom install. You can insert your license key, change the install directory, set default PDF viewers, disable the EULA, and many other useful settings. You can grab Adobe customization wizard 9 here,  X here, and XI here.

Hopefully these steps can keep you from going crazy when deploying Adobe Acrobat (especially version 9).

Sequencing DWG TrueView 2015 with App-V 5.0 SP2


There are several recipes out there for DWG TrueView 2014 and older, but I couldn’t find one for 2015. So here’s one for your sequencing pleasure. I’ll start off by saying that the recipe is very similar to the other ones out there, but I modified a few things to make the process simpler.

Sequencing System:

Server 2008 R2

App-V 5.0 SP2 with HotFix 4


Microsoft .NET 4.5

The following Visual C++  redistributables (if not using App-V 5.0 SP2):

  • 2008 x64 with SP1
  • 2010 x64 with SP1
  • 2012 x64 update 4

If you are using SP2, you do not need to worry about having C++ in your base build.

A sample DWG file – I grabbed one from here


Remove the local appdata exclusion

If you do not remove this, the application will not launch when deployed.


PVAD: Default location of C:\Program Files\Autodesk

Install using all default selections

Launch the DWG TrueView software.

This is where I differ from the other recipes and I’ll explain why.

Launching TrueView while sequencing will create the FTAs in the virtual environment. There will be no FTAs in editing mode if you do not launch it before finishing the sequence. Another reason is that you will need to open one of the sample DWG files I mentioned above. Doing so will drop two DLLs into AppData that will allow the application to open CAD files when published to a user (that’s the purpose of this application, right?). If those DLLs aren’t put into the package, you will be presented with this lovely message:

TrueView Missing DLL

Normally you could copy the DLLs to AppData from the originating location, but you won’t find them anywhere. Or you could always copy in the DLLs from another machine and manually create the FTAs, but why go through those extra steps?

Anyways, after you launch DWG and open the sample file, close DWG and finish the sequence.

Go straight to editing unless you need to optimize the package or restrict OS deployment.


There will be some extra shortcuts that show up due to us launching the application. I removed all shortcuts except for DWG TrueView 2015.  None of the others show up in the start menu or desktop.

Go to the package files tab and browse to: ‘VFS\AppData\Autodesk\DWG TrueView 2015 – English\R13\enu\recent\select file’

Delete the file that shows up in this folder (This is a shortcut to the sample file you opened).

Go to the registry tab and browse to: ‘CurrentUserSID\Software\Autodesk\DWG TrueView\R13\dwgviewr-E001:409\Recent File List’

Delete the ‘Recent File List’ registry key (This will clear the recent files in the application).

Save your package and deploy.


Possible errors you may receive:

  • A DLL error when opening a DWG file. Be sure to launch a sample file while sequencing as mentioned above
  • Launching the published application and receiving: Unhandled e0434352h exception at fe0xxxx. Make sure you have .NET 4.5.X on your target machine.


Direct download links for DWG TrueView 2015